Monday, September 26, 2011

Solar Flare Warning - world leaders go into hiding?

Ian Parker-Joseph relays news of a strong electromagnetic sunstorm that could potentially have catastrophic effects on our interconnected, electricity-dependent Western societies.

This would not be without precedent: in 1859, the strongest recorded solar storm, known as the "Carrington Event", caused telegraph systems to fail or be shut down. But the world then did not have electronics, and water and power supplies did not depend on electrically-operated and computer-controlled machinery.

The facts of the sun's storm and ejection of vast quantities of charged particles appear to be corroborated by the amateur heliological website

... and elsewhere, e.g., and pictures of the flare from 22 September here (example below):

Should we avoid going outside? Not clear: according to this Wiki article, ultraviolet light replenishes the ozone layer by splitting O2, so it is when the sun is "quiet" that the layer thins and more UV light penetrates to the Earth's surface. But there may be more UV health risk if you live in high northern latitudes, where the ozone layer is already thin or holed.

Indirectly, health and safety could be compromised by the failure of electrical systems that govern and provide for so much in our urban lives. Should we lay up extra water and cold food? It wouldn't hurt.

I like IPJ's idea of cowardy-custard politicians cowering in underground shelters; let's hope nobody superglues the locks.


James Higham said...

Might be. Not a lot we can do though.

Anonymous said...

Buy candles, better yet, make candles for sale.

Jim said...

If you were really of a tin foil hat dispensation, would this not be the perfect excuse to 'reset' the worlds economy?

'Very sorry everyone, the CME has fried the computers on all the banks systems. No-one know who had what money/debt. So all debts/bank balances have be wiped out. Nothing we can do about it.'

Paddington said...

Worst case - everything electronic and unshielded fries, including cell phones. Most of us die.

I am not going to lie awake worrying.